Understanding the Repetition Effect

How Repetition Shapes Perception and Belief

The repetition effect is a fascinating phenomenon where repeated messages start to seem more believable. Also known as the illusory truth effect or the illusion of truth, this cognitive bias means that the more you hear something, the truer it feels—even if it’s completely false. Stick with me, and I’ll dive into what this effect is all about, how it shows up in our everyday lives, and how it plays a significant role in marketing and copywriting.

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What is the Repetition Effect?

Let me break it down. The repetition effect is a cognitive bias that makes us perceive repeated statements as more truthful than new or unfamiliar ones. This happens because our brains are wired to take shortcuts when processing information. When we hear something over and over, it becomes familiar, and our brains interpret that familiarity as truth.

Take a moment to think about this: Have you ever heard that “sugar causes hyperactivity in children”? This idea sticks around because it’s repeated so often, even though scientific studies have debunked it. That’s the power of repetition at work.

Or consider politics. Think of the slogan “Make America Great Again.” Regardless of your political stance, you can’t deny how deeply this phrase has embedded itself into public consciousness. It’s repeated endlessly until it feels like an undeniable truth to many.

And in culture, there’s this stereotype that “left-handed people are more creative.” It’s been said so many times that people just accept it as fact, despite there being no substantial evidence to support it.

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Where Do We See the Repetition Effect?

You might be wondering where this effect shows up the most. Well, it’s everywhere.

In media, for instance, news outlets and social media platforms repeat the same headlines and narratives over and over. Think about how certain news stories dominate your feed until they feel overwhelmingly important.

In education, repetition is a fundamental teaching tool. Teachers repeat key concepts to ensure students remember them. It’s simple but effective.

And in everyday conversations, how many times have you heard phrases like “practice makes perfect” or “time heals all wounds”? These sayings stick because they’re repeated so often that they become ingrained in our collective mindset.

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Repetition Effect in Marketing and Advertising

Now, let’s talk about how the repetition effect is a powerhouse in marketing and advertising. It’s no secret that repeated messages build brand recognition and influence consumer behaviour.

Vegemite is a classic example from Australia. Their slogan “Happy Little Vegemites” has been repeated in advertising for decades. It’s so entrenched in Australian culture that it’s become a part of the national identity.

Then there’s Bunnings Warehouse with their jingle “Lowest prices are just the beginning.” Australians hear this so often that it instantly evokes thoughts of affordability and home improvement.

In the USA, Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign is legendary. This slogan is repeated so frequently that it’s almost synonymous with motivation and athleticism.

Another great example is the Got Milk? campaign. By consistently repeating this slogan across various media platforms, the importance of milk in the American diet was reinforced, making the message hard to ignore.

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Repetition Effect in Copywriting

Copywriting is another area where the repetition effect plays a crucial role. Here’s how I use it effectively:

Taglines and Slogans: Repeated use of taglines makes the brand message memorable. Think about “Coca-Cola: Taste the Feeling.” This repetition ensures that the emotional appeal sticks with consumers.

Email Campaigns: In email marketing, I make sure to repeat key messages and calls-to-action across multiple emails. This repetition ensures that the audience doesn’t just see the message once and forget it. Instead, it stays top of mind, increasing the likelihood of conversion.

Website Copy: On websites, repeating important information and benefits throughout the pages helps reinforce the value proposition. This strategy guides users towards taking desired actions, whether it’s making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.

Musical Techniques in Copywriting

Just like in music, incorporating rhythmic elements in copywriting can enhance the impact of your message. Here are two techniques you can use:

  1. Staccato Sentences: These are short, punchy sentences that grab attention and create impact. Think of Tesla’s advertising: “Accelerate the future. Drive electric.” This approach grabs attention and emphasises key points quickly and effectively.
  2. Legato Sentences: These are longer, flowing sentences that create a smooth and engaging narrative. For instance, Patagonia uses legato sentences in their storytelling to evoke a sense of adventure and connection to nature, enhancing the reader’s experience. “As the sun set over the horizon, the golden light bathed the landscape in a warm, ethereal glow.”

By integrating these musical principles into your copy, you create a harmonious experience that captivates and retains your audience’s attention. Want to dive deeper into these techniques? Check out my full article, “The Sound of Copy,” where I explore how musical theories can transform your copywriting.

The repetition effect is more than just a psychological quirk; it’s a powerful tool in the arsenal of marketers and copywriters. By understanding how repeated messages shape perceptions and beliefs, you can harness this effect to enhance your brand’s visibility and influence.

So, next time you hear something over and over, take a moment to question its validity. And if you’re crafting your own messages, remember: repetition can make your truth shine brighter.

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About the Author

Crom Salvatera is a passionate social media consultant and digital marketing mentor with over 22 years of experience in the industry. As the founder of Crom Salvatera Digital Marketing, he has helped numerous businesses and creatives enhance their online presence and achieve their marketing goals. Known for his genuine, approachable, and insightful teaching style, Crom is dedicated to sharing his extensive knowledge and practical strategies with his clients and students. His mission is to empower others to thrive in the dynamic world of digital marketing, fostering growth, creativity, and success.

Like what you’re reading? Follow or connect with Crom Salvatera on LinkedIn to get more digital insights.